The End of Old Times

comedy

Typology

feature

Czech title

Konec starých časů

Runtime

93

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1989

Production year

1989

Premiere

01.04.1990

Language version

Czech

Director

Jiří Menzel

Screenplay

Jiří Blažek, Jiří Menzel

Summary

While Vladislav Vančura’s novel was first published in 1934 it remains popular with readers today, in part thanks to director Jiří Menzel’s 1989 film adaptation. Konec starých časů (The End of Old Times) is set shortly after WWI at the stately home Kratochvíl, where among the new agrarian elite appears a fascinating guest, the Russian exile Megalrogov. It soon transpires that the elegant aristocrat is a modern-day Baron Munchausen. However, despite his clear untrustworthiness he is exciting and attractive to the nouveau riche locals (and especially their children, daughters and wives)… In the hands of Menzel and screenwriter Vratislav Blažek, the basic theme of Vančura’s story, the clash between the old and new worlds, merges organically with a sense of nostalgia linked to the notion of the good old days. While they, as we know, never existed, their representative – the noble wanderer Megalrogov – impresses thanks to his dignity and confidence. The adversaries (and hosts) of the self-styled “aristocrat of the spirit” are uneducated, crude moneygrubbers of the type of Stoklasa, a big farmer. The regent has his eyes set on Kratochvíl, which he aims to take ownership of materially and spiritually. Megalrogov nonchalantly shows him, however, that notional “old times” cannot be bought… Menzel again displayed his skills at adaption in this attractively conceived narrative that in its refinement and tragicomic tone follows on from the director’s other “nostalgic” adaptations – Vančura’s Rozmarné léto (Capricious Summer) (1967) and Bohumil Hrabal’s Postřižiny (Cutting It Short) (1980). While the expressive Czech of the book was transformed in the hands of its adaptors, the “painterly” camera work of Jaromír Šofr heightened the popular picture’s formal quality. Josef Abrhám excelled in the role of Megalrogov and later appeared in two Menzel projects relating to Václav Havel: as Vaněk in a television version of Audience (1990), and as Macheath in The Beggar’s Opera (1991).

Synopsis

After World War I, the big landowner Stoklasa becomes regent of the castle and manor, Kratochvíle. The small, round widower lives with his daughters: the small Kitty, and twenty year old Michaela and their governesses Ellen and the French Susanne, whom he likes. Another employee, the librarian, Bernard Spera, is engaged in the castle history. Stoklasa wants to get the manor in his ownership. A young lawyer, Pustina and the big landowner, Lhota will help him with that. The regent organizes a grand hunting with a feast. But the low-born parvenu invites his neighbour, the count Koda, in vain. Both Pustina and Lhota's son, Jan, are courting Michaela. The girl gives priority to Jan. A couple - the colonel prince Alexej Megalrogov and his servant, Váňa, come up from the wood to the table near the little pavilion. The prince does not know anybody, but he wines and dines sparsely and reads the future from the hands of Michaela, the custodian Cornelia and Susanne. When jealous men want him to leave, the prince gets offended and almost leaves. The children- Kitty and her friend Marcel, like the unexpected guest very much and the girl asks her father to invite him to the castle. The prince settles in quickly. He teaches the children to whistle, he runs around with them, he enchants the servants in the kitchen; with misses he plays blind man's buff. Cornelie is flirting with the librarian and the prince with Michaela. The suitors are jealous and they want Stoklasa to throw the prince out. But he does not want to get rid of the attractive guest. Alexej claims that his mother was a noblewoman, Perchta from Rožmberk. He catches the influential Charousek vice-chairman, of the cottagers' party, poaching in the wood and punishes him on the spot. Jan leaves Michaela, when he finds out that both fathers are already planning their wedding. Spera is bitterly watching at night, through the keyhole, the heavy petting of Cornelie and the prince. Charousek insists on an apology. Without his help, the Spera's matter will not succeed. Now the prince spends a night with Susanne. In the morning, Spera has a fight with him. After the earl slaps him, he connects with Jan and Pustina in order to revenge. The prince teaches Michaela fencing. Instead of an apology, he kicks Charousek out of the castle. Jan calls the prince out. The prince loses on purpose and then calmly he puts on a degrading hat of the Baron Münchhausen. Jan wants to continue fencing, but this time he is masterfully defeated. Then Megalrogov says goodbye to everybody. The children want to leave with him. Michaela, Susanne, and Cornelie have the same wish. Spera gets drunk with Ellen. Stoklasa catches them and fires them both. The prince, with Váňa, escapes over the wall in the early morning. Charousek makes a deal with Stoklasa. The disappointed children have only the Münchhausen hat. Stoklasa is having breakfast with Susanne and the butler, Kotera, is nostalgically looking out of the window.

Film online

Cast

Josef Abrhám

kníže Alexej Nikolajevič Megalrogov

Marián Labuda

velkostatkář Josef Stoklasa

Jaromír Hanzlík

Bernard Spera, knihovník na Kratochvíli

Rudolf Hrušínský

velkostatkář Jakub Lhota

Jan Hartl

mladý advokát Pustina

Jan Hrušínský

Jan Lhota, velkostatkářův syn

Jiří Adamíra

Kotera, majordomus na Kratochvíli

Josef Somr

Charousek, místopředseda strany domkařů

Chantal Poullain

vychovatelka Susanne

Alice Dvořáková

učitelka Ellen

Barbora Leichnerová

Michaela, Stoklasova dcera

Tereza Chudobová

Kitty, Stoklasova dcera

Ljuba Krbová

klíčnice Cornelie

Jan Novák

Marcel, kamarád Kitty

Stella Zázvorková

kuchařka Františka

František Řehák

lesmistr Rychtera

Pavel Zvarič

Váňa, sluha knížete Megalrogova

Martina Jirotková

Julinka

Oldřich Vlach

Župník

Blanka Lormanová

Župníkova manželka

Eugen Jegorov

Vondříček

Helena Gabrielová

Frída

Irena Hahnová

Eleonora

Olga Jungová

host u Stoklasy

Pavel Vondruška

host u Stoklasy

Alena Fišerová

Jaroslav Tomsa

dubl za Josefa Abrháma

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Eva Kadaňková, Jan Prokop

Assistant Director

Igor Hamko, Oldřich Vlasák, Pavla Marková

Based on

Vladislav Vančura (Konec starých časů – román)

Script Editor

Václav Nývlt

Second Unit Photography

Karel Hejsek

Camera Operator

Ivan Šimůnek

Production Designer

Zbyněk Hloch

Set Designer

Bedřich Čermák, Rudolf Beneš, Jaroslav Lehman, Pavel Svoboda

Costume Designer

Marie Franková

Film Editor

Jiří Brožek

Sound Designer

Karel Jaroš

Production Manager

Jan Šuster

Unit Production Manager

Martina Krýslová, Jan Peterka

Unit Production Manager

Zdena Junková, Jan Hadrbolec

Cooperation

Michaela Schollová, Eva Horázná, Růžena Hejsková, Petr Javůrek, Jiří Bělík, Jiří Šveňha, Josef Roček, Václav Luks (šerm), Jarmila Melichová, Rudolf Postl, Miloslav Mirvald

Music

Music Composed by

Jiří Šust

Selected Music

Fryderyk Chopin (Preludium), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Chléb s máslem)

Music Performed by

FISYO

Music Conducted by

Štěpán Koníček (FISYO)

Songs

Odchází láska veliká, Ty ty ty, ty to budeš platiti

Songwriter

Jaroslav Malina (Odchází láska veliká)

Writer of Lyrics

Ladislav Jacura (Odchází láska veliká)

Singer

Standa Procházka (Odchází láska veliká)

Choreographer

Václav Luks (šerm)

Production info

Original Title

Konec starých časů

English Title

The End of Old Times

Copyright

1989

Production Year

1989

Premiere

01.04.1990

Creative Group

Jiří Blažek

Technical info

Format

Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Event: Anketa časopisu Kinorevue

1993
Praha / Czech Republic

Vítěz

Festival: 12. festival české a slovenské filmové veselohry Novoměstský hrnec smíchu Nové Město nad Metují

1990
Nové Město nad Metují / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 6. mezinárodní filmový festival Las Vegas

1990
Las Vegas / United States of America

Vítěz

Festival: 6. mezinárodní filmový festival Las Vegas

1990
Las Vegas / United States of America

Vítěz

Festival: 34. mezinárodní filmový festival Valladolid

1989
Valladolid / Spain
Jaromír Šofr

Vítěz

Festival: 13. mezinárodní filmový festival Montreal

1989
Montreal / Canada
Jiří Menzel